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Ideal Bread: Transmit- Vol 2 of The Music of Steve Lacy

Upon the passing of Steve Lacy - the pioneering jazz composer and soprano saxophonist – one of his former students set up a repertory group in order to present new versions of works seen by some as criminally overlooked by other musicians. Formed by Josh Sinton, Ideal Bread is that group, and the profligately named Transmit: Vol 2 of The Music of Steve Lacy is their second album.

Ideal Bread remain true to their mentor's philosophy of keeping it tight and crisp without sacrificing the free flowing nature of the music. Yet into that mix they add flashes of their own flair, not least through the unconventional instrument set up (baritone sax, trumpet, bass and drums) and their propensity to improvise.

The result is an album that includes some standout jazz tracks and moments. "Flakes" opens with a sharp staccato rhythm that sounds mathematical in its precision, only to be offset by an initially moody sax solo that gradually builds into a furious flurry of notes winding in ever tighter sonic coils, leaving the listener breathless until the opening refrain returns to close proceedings. "The Dumps" features a vocal attack that will not be to everyone's tastes: all four members repeating the two words in various voices. It is a brave move that serves as an arresting piece of punctuation to an entertainingly free piece, even if it does wear thin a little too quickly.

The standout track is probably "Clichés"; opening with a bass line that almost recalls the heady enthusiasm of early Black Sabbath – oddly – but then steps into a sinewy rhythm over which offbeat unison lines from the saxophone and trumpet take things into a decidedly left field-turn. The piece then grows into a swaggeringly insistent maelstrom of colourful noise, more Brazilian street party than smoky New York bar during an extended climax around two-thirds through the 11 minute duration, before dropping through pounding toms into a crisp finale.

Overall, then, there are some very strong pieces on this album. Strong enough, one might think, to warrant an unequivocal recommendation. It isn't as simple as that however, as there is something slightly unsatisfying about the enterprise. Perhaps an inherent problem in taking a selection of compositions from an artists oeuvre, and then presenting versions of them as an album; is that it doesn't quite feel like an album. It isn't that the music doesn't have a unity of purpose – Steve Lacy's distinct compositional voice runs through the work like a spine – but rather that it all feels a little plonked together. It is as if great consideration was given to each song, but none was given to the album as a whole. "Longing" for example, would work perfectly well as a piece in its own right. In the album, however, it sits leaden; perhaps because much of the musical ground it features has already been covered.

Despite these complaints Transmit remains a powerful work, with invigorating improvisation and sharp composition across the board. It is well worth a look for any Jazz fan.

Track Listing
1. As Usual
2. Flakes
3. The Dumps
4. Longing
5. Cliches
6. The Breath
7. Papa's Midnite Hop

Added: September 28th 2010
Reviewer: Richard Wheelhouse
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 1998
Language: english

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